NCAA Baseball Championships:
DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.
Scott Long asks Mike Detiller about the Karr losses, the QB position, and early departures.
Scott: Mike, I want to ask you more about LSU's potential early departures, about the Tigers' play in the Outback Bowl, and about the quarterback situation. But first, let's go back to something we touched on in the previous segment.
I'll just put this bluntly, as many readers have put it to meâ€¦
Is there some anti-LSU sentiment at Karr High that's causing kids like Willis and Noil to spurn LSU? Or is Willis' issue maybe a family-dynamic thing with he and Landon Collins (last year) both going against Momma's wishes? What's your take?
Mike: Scott, I never got that anti-LSU sentiment from talking to Speedy or Gerald at all. Noil was always a little mercurial in his ways and how he dealt with recruiting, but I am shocked with Gerald because in our talks he praised Brick Haley and Frank Wilson and said that LSU was D-Lineman University.
This is what I see that happened with Willis. Florida has not been a major player in Louisiana for years, but Gator head coach Will Muschamp targeted John Curtis junior safety Hunter Dale as the Florida guy for 2015. Willis and Dale are friends who works out together at Sonic Boom in Harahan, which happens to be owned by Wyatt Harris, Dale's father. That is the Florida connection. Florida targeted Hunter Dale and he is very close friends with Gerald Willis and they both decided to head to Florida because of Muschamp. Butâ€¦ who knows if Muschamp will be there in 2015? That is the hidden connection between Florida and Willis.
I have no idea about Speedy. The overreaction by many Tiger fans is that Frank Wilson has to go and he has lost the bottom part of the state. That is not reality. 72 hours ago those same Tiger fans were saying Frank was the best recruiting coordinator in the history of LSU and now something went wrong because you lost two players from the same school in New Orleans. Let's see what happens in the next few weeks and then we'll have a better gauge on the shortcomings of this recruiting class.
Scott: Very interetsing. Now, backing up a bit, give me your thoughts on LSU's performance in the Outback Bowl.
Mike: The offensive game plan was right. LSU had to protect their young quarterback and so they gave it to their stud back and he was terrific. With Anthony Jennings, you can see that he is not mechanically sound as a passer and Cam Cameron will have to work on him setting his feet better and throwing the ball better on-balance. He is throwing off-balance and the balls are sailing on him. He will get better with his reads and progressions, but what sticks out to me is his off-balance throwing.
Defensively I don't get what Iowa did against LSU in not attacking the middle, especially without Ego Ferguson, but I was impressed with the young secondary kids, T. White, R. Robinson and R. Jefferson. And give him full credit, D.J. Welter played his best game of the season. Overall, LSU played to win the game, got it done and gave their young quaterback some experience, but the real work will come with the development of Jennings and Brandon Harris at QB, and now retooling the offensive line some.
LSU needs to look at bringing in someone to help develop their O-linemen with their pass blocking, maybe someone like Ben Wilkerson or Kevin Mawae. The O-line needs some development with pro style pass blocking techniques.
Scott: I'm right with you, Mike, and I have a feeling a lot of my readers will agree. But back to the quarterback situationâ€¦ I was really impressed with Brandon Harris' arm in the UA game. The guy can really zing it and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. Your take?
Mike: I have said and written it before; I am convinced that Brandon Harris will be the one to lead LSU to their next SEC Championship game. He is smart, very accurate and can put the ball in tight spots. He's also a really good leader.
Scott: A lot of folks have questioned me about not mentioning Stephen Rivers and Hayden Rettig more when talking about the quarterback competition. What's your take on these two and their chances of contributing?
Mike: I don't see Rivers competing for time against Jennings or Harris. I would like to see more of Rettig, but he didn't seem to have good zip on his throws when I watched him. His release is a little slow, similar to Rivers.
Scott: Now let's turn to your primary area of expertise and talk about early departures and NFL projections. Surely you've heard that Ferguson and Turner have signed up for the NFL combine training. Let's start with those two.
Mike: Ego really played well this season, the best player on defense for LSU. He projects as a 2nd round pick and I think a fairly early 2nd rounder. He played hard this season and is very athletic. He can push the inside pocket, and he played with really good leverage against the run in 2013. He was the one double-teamed most times, not Anthony Johnson.
Trai Turner had a better sophomore than junior campaign, but I have a lot of respect for his talents. He is short, 6-1 1/2, 330, kinda squatty, but a terrific run blocker and he gets his pads under a D-lineman and can move him around. He needs work as a technician, like most Tiger offensive linemen, as a pass protector. This is a good year for guards and I would project him as a 5th rounder.
On defense, Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson are gone, so finding those big DT's are huge for 2014. Developing all those young D-linemen is key for next season. We really don't know what we have with any of them.
Scott: And at the skill positions? Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry? Jeremy Hill?
Mike: All are going to leave. Beckham will go in Round One, Landry will go in Round 2 and Jeremy Hill in Round 3.
Three terrific football players that really made their mark at LSU. But you'll have a really good backfield in 2014 with Terrance Magee, Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams. I am a big fan of Fournette and Williams is a hell of a back, especially in short yardage and redone spots. Also LSU has one of the top young WR coaches in the business in Adam Henry. He will do a great job with the younger players on the team. He is so underrated for his skills and his ability to relate to his players. Pay the man.
Scott: And then there's Alfred Blue and Kenneth Hilliard. Your thoughts on their prospects of returning?
Mike: Slim. Both will be late round picks or free agent signees, but I believe both leave early.
Scott: Well, of course I would love to have those two return, but I agree with you that a backfield of Magee, Fournette, and Williams, running behind a solid offensive line that will return at least three starters, could be quite a force to reckon with.
Mike: Yes indeed. That will be their strength, but they need to, as a staff, look at getting better in pass protection and that may mean making a chance along the offensive line from a coaching standpoint.
Scott: Thanks, Mike, for sharing your thoughts. I know DandyDon readers appreciate it.
Mike: Thanks, Scott. And isn't it funny how Goliath looks a little mortal today in Tuscaloosa? The SEC will be wild next year and I'm anxious to see who returns and who leaves early from Auburn, especially Tre Mason and Greg Robinson. If LSU can develop the quarterback spot and their D-line, they wlll be a double-digit winning team again in 2014. Those are two big ifs, but look at how many SEC teams will have to replace their quarterback in 2014. That will be key.
Mike Detillier, based in southern Louisiana, is editor and publisher of Mike Detillier's NFL Draft Report. He's also the college and pro football analyst for WWL 870 AM Radio in New Orleans, a sports columnist for several newspapers and Web sites, and a frequent guest on radio and television programs across the country. Visit Mikeâ€™s website at mikedetillier.com and follow @MikeDetillier on Twitter.
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